Progress is steady now:
All permits are in, licenses submitted, utilities connected, plan settled on, and, the bar is built! Mojitos are being prepped as I write.
Well okay, we aren’t quite that close. But we are certainly closer than when last I wrote. We are busy interviewing folks for all positions and have found a wealth of talent in beautiful Portland. Opening June 1st is a long shot but still an outside chance.
All that is left really is to decide on whether we will keep the popular Mandarin Red walls, what kind of light fixtures to install, and what kind of ceviches to open with.
Well after having spent the last several weeks pushing the boundary between demolition (for which we had a permit) and construction (for which we did not) we no longer have to use any Clintonian definition standards. Is is really is and we have a full construction permit, albeit significantly later than we had hoped to have one.
Work is now in full swing with my brother-in-law Peter Kells managing the project. After going literally back and forth in regards to the location of the bar vs. the kitchen we have finally settled on a plan that will put the bar back approximately where it was when part of the space was the infamous Iguana (don’t deny it – you danced on the bar, or watched others dance on the bar).
One big challenge we have been working on is SOUND. That is, how not to have too much of it. With brick walls and wood floors we are up against it from the beginning, but we have some ideas that will hopefully also be attractive design features.
However, things have been all electronic for me with my partner in crime, Cassady Pappas on site because Deirdre, Zoe, myself and our newest addition, Juno, have been busy sampling Mexican food including Cochinita Pibil, a Yucatan specialty of pulled pork and achiote. Great stuff! We are here in Tulum again for the month and will return March 15th with fresh ideas and hopefully a partially completed restaurant. From there on it is Portland all the time – Deirdre and I have rented a house on Danforth Street.
Delay in permits notwithstanding, work is ongoing at Havana South. We are on-site most days, as we do have our demolition permit, so we can demolish anything we want. Just can’t rebuild, yet.
All these delays simply give us more time to change our minds about exactly where things are going to go. We do have down the basics; kitchen here, bar over there, semi-private room over in this corner, etc. etc. It also gives us plenty of time to peruse the HUGE wine offerings of National and Nappi distributors, two companies that weren’t accessible to us in Bar Harbor. Our wine list will be similiar to the one in Bar Harbor, with a focus on Spain, South America and a bit of everything else. And yes, we will certainly have Clio and El Nido, but we are also hoping to redesign the list so that there will be a page of by-the-glass offerings, and then a page of “Great Bottles for $25 and Under” or something like that. Again, anyone looking to splurge and find a rare Sine Qua Non or Vega Sicilia will find it, but things are tight all over and we hope to be a place that is affordable, yet still formal. More on that in a subsequent post.
I never thought there could be a municipality in Maine more serious about Code enforcement than my fair home town of Bar Harbor. However, Portland takes the cake. Of course it is all for the greater good, it is just hard to see that through the piles of paperwork. But let’s face it, one of the reasons the Old Port still has a cool vibe is because the folks at Historical and Planning have worked hard at maintaining that vibe.
What does that all mean for Havana South – April opening is a long-shot and for once we aren’t stressed about getting open so we will probably shoot for some soft opening nights in early May with recipe testing and staff warm-ups and a mid-May opening.
Other news coming soon including some great chef hires and a possible butcher shop.
42-50 Wharf Street will be the new location of Havana South, a Latin American inspired casual fine dining restaurant in the old Port. Yes, Havana South is related to Havana Restaurant in Bar Harbor. No, it won’t be exactly the same. Yes, it will have the same great mojitos and the same great menu.